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Get Your Deposit Back — Some Sage Advice for First Time Renters

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Renting an apartment, house, duplex, condo, or anything for that matter, usually means a huge upfront expense. Landlords typically ask for first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and a deposit, meaning you could be shelling out a grand or three before you’re even calling the place home. The one saving grace? A third of it will at least come back to you — if you rent the right way. There are a lot of things you can do as a renter to ensure your deposit returns to you in full. Before moving out — and even before moving in — make sure to check these things off your list:

Pre-Lease Walkthrough

There’s always a preliminary showing of a rental space before a lease is signed, but be sure yours includes a careful inspection of any existing damages. Are there any holes in the walls? Does the shower work? Are there leaks from any of the faucets? With your landlord, go through each room and check the aesthetic and function of each appliance and fixture. Take pictures, even. You don’t want your landlord reducing your security deposit return for damage you didn’t cause.

Know Your Lease

Read through that puppy thoroughly. Understand your rights and responsibilities, and those of your landlord. The lease will lay out the conditions under which you can lose part or all of your security deposit. Learn more here.

Get Approval for Customizations

Perhaps you’re not a fan of carpet, or the kitchen tile’s looking a little dingy. If you’re willing and able to make some improvements, don’t forget to run it by the landlord first. What you see as enhancements your landlord could interpret as damages and deduct the expenses to “fix” them from your security deposit.

On the flipside, running it by the landlord could work out in your favor, as some leasing companies will fully or partially reimburse you for labor you’re willing to do yourself.

Keep It Clean

If not tidy, try to keep the apartment clean. And, if you do damage or break something, consider repairing it yourself. Landlords (and leases) are usually forgiving of the normal wear and tear of a property, but let that escalate to excessive, and you could be paying big for the landlord to hire a cleaning company or bring in a handyman.

That being said, unless you’re a certified electrician, let the landlord pay a professional to handle any issues in that area. Saving a few bucks isn’t worth risking your well-being. And beyond plunging, probably leave the plumbing to the plumbers.

Understand the Law

According to Ohio law, landlords must return your security deposit within 30 days of the tenant moving out. If the deposit is not received, or if you’re not satisfied with the deductions that are made, try to reach a resolution with the landlord.

Consider penning a demand letter specifying the amount of money you believe you’re owed and the number of days within which you’d like to receive it. Try to keep it professional, and you’re more likely to get what you want.

If a resolution still can’t be reached, the matter may need to be considered by small claims court.

For more information on rental law, visit nolo.com.

Knowing these steps can not only ensure the safe and total return of your security deposit, they also promote a good relationship between landlord and tenant. Being proactive, taking responsibility and remaining communicative can mean an easy ride in your new place.

This article is presented by Hometeam Property Management, Columbus, Ohio. Hometeam has one of the largest selections of single-family homes for rent in The Ohio State University district. All of our homes are newly or recently remodeled with hardwood floors, porches, decks, security systems and much more! Outside the campus area, we also own and manage multiple single-family homes and Luxury apartments around the Columbus area, including in German Village, Hilliard, Dublin, Grandview and Reynoldsburg. For more information, visit www.hometeamproperties.net.

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